Universes Here On Earth

My family wasn’t wealthy, but we weren’t eating water soup* every night either. If I could put it into a neat, little box (Americans love that) I would say we were upper-proletariat or lower-middle class. We did OK, I suppose, if only because we did what we had to do and bought off-brand food. I think a lot of my current-day disdain for branding comes from this. I’m very brand loyal IF they’ve proven their worth. For example, I buy from Honda motors because they have treated me right for 15 years.

There’s a reason for all of this wind up, because I will say we (that is my sister, a few neighborhood kids, and myself) would be allowed to play with the garden hose for a couple of hours in the sweltering heat of Summer. What most people do these days is just go to a water park. Entertainment expenditures were just not in the budget at that time. I also think that’s the reason I am compulsively working. I painted a large section of Stonefield’s siding today, because Labor Day feels weird. Isn’t that a laugh riot?

During the moments when we had the hose, I remember wetting down a section of the patio and staring at it close up. I know it sounds a bit dim, but there were universes in the concrete. Please let me explain. As most are aware, concrete contains aggregate (crushed stone, sand, etc.) to act as filler and give the concrete structure. Well, as it turns out, it also sparkles when wet. It looked like the night sky, when I cupped my hands and only let a beam of light through. Some boys were busy burning ants with magnifying glasses. I was busy staring at wet concrete.

So, when it seemed like I was only laying flat on a patio looking stupid, I was really viewing all of the different colors in the cement. All sorts of colors, and all of them twinkling… like the universe. All of the colors planets, with histories, and civilizations. You see, I also used to stare at the night sky, because I really wanted to run away. Not just from my parents or city, but this entire world. I wanted to find a better place for me among the stars, and would fantasize about space travel. Hence some of my stories are science fiction. It’s a holdover from my childhood.

I’m not exactly sure why I wrote this post, but I do know it was something I recalled this afternoon with little provocation. It was like a moving a photo album and having a forgotten picture fall out. This gave me pause, not because I believe “things happen for a reason,” rather I surprised myself with how much I’ve forgotten. It’s almost like I have intentionally done so.

——-

* – A can of water soup is the Depression-era Homestarrunner’s form of entertainment, only to underscore the sheer poverty of people in a “first-world” nation. It’s a parody of early cartoon making where outhouses and family’s sleeping all in one bed were still common practice. It was only about 80 years ago, people. That’s still within a person’s lifetime.

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8 thoughts on “Universes Here On Earth

  1. kerbey says:

    That’s a great memory, just as interesting as a water park, which I never went to either.

    • I can remember the advertising really heating up in the early 90’s with Geauga Lake, Cedar Point, Six Flags, Kings Island, and our local cost-effective option Putt ‘n’ Pond. Anything before that was DIY, but I think it was actually a better time.

  2. My mother grew up in Eastern Kentucky (as I think you know.) She had an outhouse, a two room main house for the eight of them, and plenty of water soup. I knew what it was before I read the definition.

    I always wanted to run away from the town where I grew up. I think I did the same thing, staring at the sky and wondering how far I could go. Thanks for bringing back that memory.

  3. Nice post. My life was the reverse, I grew up with lots and have managed to end up nothing. Of the two extremes, I’m definitely happier now. I’m not sure that youth is a particularly happy time. Too much hope:)

  4. laurasmess says:

    I love everything you write, whether you know the reasons behind it or not! Finding beauty in concrete is something unique, beautiful and wonderful. I was the same as a child, I loved small details and found faces, shapes and sparkles in everything from timber to puddles of milk. I’m trying to rediscover that childish wonder, the creativity and imagination of old. I think children these days (now I’m going to sound really old!) are overstimulated with technology, water parks, comfort and entertainment on a silver platter. I think we learned and discovered more by enduring the heat, spraying ourselves with water and discovering ant colonies, snails and universes in the concrete. I haven’t achieved half as much as I wanted to when I was a child. Life has become difficult, infinitely boring and full of responsibility. But then, I find a face in my coffee or ants exploring my office drawer. Once again, the world becomes interesting.

    • Thank you for the compliment, Laura!

      It seems to me with every generation comes a state of confusion. The subjects will change, as do the options or philosophies of the world, but this opens the door to new conundrums people face. These obstacles often reveal themselves at inopportune times, too. With Generation X, it was direction in life or purpose. Basic human needs like shelter, food, and clothing were (for the most part) dealt with and we had no knock-down drag-out fights with other countries (the Gulf War was an absolute slaughter). We also had no large political movements, as with the Me generation. We were fumbling around in the dark for some purpose and that’s why songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became so popular. It resonated with young Americans at the time, because they were clueless and frustrated.

      After a few decades of either sinking or swimming, most of us have either found something to do or have accepted our occupation (or lack thereof). We may complain about it, but there’s little energy in taking action.

      Generation Y, Children of the 80s, Millenials, Echo Boomers, or whatever you want to call them will have to adapt to the creation of sensory overload. Otherwise, it will ruin their focus, temperament, and drive. These are qualities every human needs to keep themselves going through life. Time will tell if it they can still function as needed with this technology.

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